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Midwest City police identify woman found dead in gas-filled home

— A home where a woman was found dead and two other people were found unconscious smelled strongly of natural gas, police said Tuesday.

Authorities described the case as “a very strange homicide.”

Police Chief Brandon Clabes said Violet Hemphill, 64, was found dead Monday night at her house in the 1000 block of Holly Lane. Hemphill had obvious trauma to her body, Clabes said, but he did not elaborate.

The state medical examiner's office has not determined her cause or manner of death.

Police said a relative went to the home to make a welfare check about 5:30 p.m. Monday and noticed a strong odor of natural gas. Authorities found the Hemphill dead.

Clabes said it appears that the controls on the gas stove had been deliberately turned on to fill the house with natural gas.

Firefighters disconnected the gas and electricity to render the house safe for investigators.

The woman's 23-year-old nephew and his 22-year-old girlfriend were found unresponsive in a bedroom.

Both were taken to a hospital, where the woman was listed in critical condition.

Police said the man was recovering and was expected to be released Tuesday.

Clabes said the couple suffered from gas asphyxiation and possibly a drug overdose. He said they will be questioned about the homicide.

“This is a very strange homicide and obviously, based on evidence at the scene, the nephew and girlfriend are witnesses, but we have been unable to interview them due to their medical condition,” Clabes said. “Officers are assigned with the witnesses until they are medically stable and brought to headquarters.”

He said the three occupants had lived in the house for a month. The home belonged to Hemphill's mother, who recently died.

Police hadn't been called to the residence before.

Tiffany Gibson

Tiffany Gibson has worked for The Oklahoman since August 2011 and is a member of the enterprise team and digital desk. In addition to writing and web editing, she creates interactive features for and assists with data visualization and... Read more ›

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